“He just took a piece of plywood, a tarp, and a leafblower and made his own hovercraft!”
Andy Allmandinger enthusiastically brags about his first class of students at Metro Institute of Technology, the newest school affiliated with Columbus’ Metro Early College High School and Metro Early College Middle School.
“What he found is that the more you weigh the better it floats. So when I went to push off the wall my feet went out from underneath me and I almost went down.”
The Columbus’s MIT takes up the second floor of Franklin University’s Philips Hall, filling a modest four classrooms with its first cohort of high schoolers
He greets me warmly, inviting me out to the lobby. Cushy chairs line a wall opposite a wall of small cubes.
“We don’t have any lockers, so we use cubbies instead.”
He mentions offhand that they don’t seem to have trouble without locks. He opens the door to a large, collegiate-style lecture hall.
“This is where we start our day.”
Each morning, the students of MIT gather for announcements and community. For now, it’s big enough to fit the 72 students.
“It’ll start getting a little tight in here.” Regardless, Principal Allmandinger sees the benefit of building the community.
“We’ll still start out with our morning meeting, even when we get to our full capacity.”
Looking around, he adds, “It might not be in this room anymore.”
Few high schools may prioritize this, but it speaks wonders of community that 72 ninth-graders have developed over the handful of months spent together. Ryley, 14 years old and a member of Student Council, agrees.
“We immediately found connections and found friends. It’s cool because we’re coming from all these different districts, some people are coming from different countries.”
But there’s more than just friendship at MIT. The students have the opportunity to earn an associates degree in the five year high school program, taking college classes through Franklin University and Columbus State.
This is the main draw for Elea, a 15-year-old aspiring computer hardware engineer and fellow Student Council member. When thinking about what makes MIT stand out, his eyes are never far from the prize.
“For me it’s making sure I get some type of certification or an associate’s degree. The end goal is what stands out.”
Elea and Ryley, also share the difficulties of drafting a constitution for MIT, a task they were charged with.
“Our size is so small right now, but we had to also take into account that we are going to be growing exponentially next year and the year after that.”
Looking back, Allmandinger is satisfied with what they achieved, and optimistic for the future.
“This year has gone as smooth as I could have asked for… We’ll be keeping students moving forward and helping them come together.”
With open minds.
And open cubbies.
Interview and tour took place on Wednesday, May 11th.